The Wild World of Marketing Automation

According to Gartner, CMOs will soon influence more IT-related budget decisions than CIOs. Software as a service has lowered the barrier to decision making based on technical merits since the application’s “backend” is the vendor’s responsibility, not IT’s. Instead, consideration of features and benefits for marketing users now gets the spotlight, as it should.

So while marketers don’t have to bother IT folks as often when they onboard new automation tools, new challenges arise. The marketing automation landscape grows daily. Keeping up with it all can be a full time job.

To help, I have divided the landscape into four functional areas:

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Some vendors have come up with solutions to address the entire process. Players like Adobe for example, have the market position and resources to address all aspects of automation. Other “platform” vendors include digital asset management specialists like Saepio, as well as sales and marketing platform vendors like, Marketo, Infusionsoft, and others.

However, the reason many companies resist going the platform route is too much risk involved in committing to a single vendor. The more you go down that road, the more committed you become to that vendor’s roadmap and vision of YOUR business process.

The “Functionally Specialized Automation Highway”

Alternatively, most companies end up plying what I call the “functionally specialized automation highway.” In this scenario, the company picks and chooses automation solutions where they need it, when they need it.

This approach often occurs due to specialized needs the organization has for say, sophisticated content production needs of an online publisher, or heavy focus on video streaming production. The more specialization in the business, the more likely the organization will require specialized automation tools.

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The downside of this approach is integration. Sooner or later as these systems mature, the need for integration will only grow. And while most come with application programming interfaces to one another, the “devil is in the details” on getting them to work well together.

Furthermore, some of these systems, like Newscred, Kapost, InsightSquared or GoodData come with large price tags in the tens of thousands of dollars minimum. So the evaluation to buy these solutions is nearly as significant as an end to end platform buy. In any case, marketers have been given a lot more latitude. With it comes a lot more responsibility.

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